Years ago here in the UK there was a series of adverts on TV to try to persuade people to make more phone calls and speak to people more often. The tagline was “It’s good to talk.” That might be true, but for some people it’s not easy. Read more
When I was younger I was dismissive of people who saw therapists. “What’s the use in that?” I used to think to myself. I didn’t get it at all; it made no sense.
But now I think I’d like to have somebody I could talk to about anything that was on my mind without worrying about being judged or that it might affect a relationship with a friend.
I need a confidante. Somebody to listen while I pour out a stream of thoughts from my turbulent mind. I’m not looking for answers or advice so much. But somebody who could prompt and guide the process would help.
I’m not seeking offers here; I don’t want to have to worry about how much I open up, about confidentiality. I need the reassurance of a relationship that is entirely professional and governed by professional standards.
I guess I’m in the market for a therapist. The younger me would be aghast.
The bottom line is that I need to open up about certain things. Keeping it all in is becoming harmful. It’s making me more vulnerable to depression.
There are some things from my past, some from my present. Things I’ve locked away, things I try to avoid. Things that worry me and others that absolutely terrify me. They’re not going to go away, but just maybe I can learn to live with them.
So much time alone
Discourse a forgotten art
Even with myself.
A memory on a wall
Posted on Facebook.
I think about Death
And the high cost of living
Balancing my books.
Even pain is no relief
Routine no solace.
Addict’s way of marking time
Needle track stretch marks.
Life is but a joke
Reasons to get excited
Like thieves in the night.
Slowly fade away
Melt into billowing swirls
Of media dreams.
I suffer from depression. From time to time my mood drops and I find it almost impossible to motivate myself to do anything. These spells can last anything from a few hours to several months.
I’ve taken medication for it in the past. It doesn’t cure it, it just alters my brain chemistry to even out the peaks and troughs in my emotional state.
You see, a mental illness like depression is rather like a physical illness such as arthritis. Medication can alleviate symptoms, and it can flare up or go into remission for a while. Things you do and your environment can affect it.
But there’s one important difference between a physical illness and a mental one: too many people see mental illness as something unwholesome, a taint on the person affected. This stigma causes prejudice and abuse.
It’s used as an excuse for firing people from their jobs, for isolating them socially. All these things inflict further harm.
Then there’s the ableist responses, common to any invisible disability (yes, a mental illness is a disability: it affects your ability to function in a variety of different ways). I’ve been told to “get over it”, to “make an effort”, to be thankful “there’s nothing really wrong wth me”.
In a way there is nothing “wrong” with me. There’s nothing shameful in suffering from a mental illness: it’s not a judgement on my character. I just have depression. My mind is not completely healthy.
It’s long past time that mental illness was seen in the same terms as physical illness: as something requiring support, not judgement.
So instead of avoiding someone who is mentally ill, instead of fearing, abusing and harming them, be a friend to them. Support them and help them with some of the day-to-day things that they’re not able to cope with. Let them know they’re not on their own.
Mental illness can be isolating. It’s hard to ask for help, to approach people, and when we do the last thing we need is to be ignored or turned away. So don’t. Be there. Be a friend. Support those with mental illness.
Being a carer is hard work at times. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. I do it through choice. But lately caring for Anne has become a whole lot harder. Her illnesses have gotten worse and she has become very depressed, frequently experiencing suicidal thoughts.
I can’t switch off from it. I’m receptive to her state of mind, and — believe me — when you’re prone to depression yourself it’s extremely stressful to feel the echoes of somebody else’s. It negatively affects my own emotional state and after a while, day after day, it builds up to the point at which I have to do my best to shut off. To lock myself away and wait for the overwhelming feelings to recede.
It is exhausting. I have found myself needing to take a break more and more often. And that is a cause of stress in itself because I feel guilty for failing to be there constantly. She relies on me, she needs my help, and I’m not always able to respond.
I’m aware that I’m not looking after myself as well as I would normally. I’m mostly subsisting on take-out food and candy. Things like washing are falling to a bare minimum. I’m becoming snappy far too often, my motivation is poor and I’m feeling low. Oh, and aspects of my gender dysphoria are increasingly intruding on my thoughts.
There is a feeling that I’m losing control, adrift and at the mercy of life’s currents. I know from past experience that this is a dangerous situation for me because it is a powerful trigger for self harm: cutting in my case. The thoughts and impulses are there, even as I write this. I sat for about an hour over the weekend holding a blade, just thinking about using it.
I haven’t yet because I do consider it something of a last resort. I’m just concerned that the time when I yield to my impulses is getting closer by the day: the time when I will regain the illusion of control over my life, at least for a while. The temptation is strong but so far my fear of falling into the cycle of dependency has stayed my hand.
I love hugs. That comforting feeling of envelopment engendering an ambiance of safety in the folds of a loving embrace. Sometimes my need is so great and the release so totally involving that I am reduced to tears.
It is said that a thing is known by its opposite, and that is true of hugs for me. Because there are times when I yearn, when I physically ache for those few moments of relief. To be held tightly and be able to let go of all my immediate fears and worries.
My need manifests as a feeling of absolute emptiness. My heart is a void that cries out to be filled with that demonstration of love, of physical closeness. Such a desolation of spirit. I am exposed, flayed, eviscerated. Left as an empty husk of a person.
My world is without light; all I see is shadows of what surrounds me. Until I am released by the touch of another, bringing a golden light into my darkness, restoring my pain-wracked body, showing me that there is hope. Giving me another day to live.
As a follow-up to my last post I’m going to talk about Gender Dysphoria. What it is, what it feels like, why it is different from conditions such as body dysmorphia, and how it is treated. Read more